The other day I was putting away all my camping stuff away after another trip. While I was making room on the shelves I spotted my grandfather’s old tackle box. I picked it up to move it to another place in the garage but for some reason I decided to poke through it again. I brushed away the cobwebs and dirt and took it inside the house. The old green metal box is mostly rust now and I wondered if the locks would even open. As the lids creaked open I stared inside and thought to myself, what in the world was he thinking?
My grandfather was a jack of all trades kind of guy. He worked for Hudson motors, Chris Craft, built landing craft during the war, owned a cab company, a mink farm and eventually a marina in Wyandotte on the Detroit River. It is even rumored that he ran whiskey across the Detroit River during prohibition. The one constant that remained the same throughout his life is that he loved to fish. One of my last memories of him was sitting on his lap as he taught me how to tie a clinch knot. He also told me that when I got older he was going to teach me the right way to catch walleye. I had no idea what he was talking about but I finally figured it out 35 years later. When he finally retired he would fish just about every day of the year. He went so much that my Grandma insisted that one Sunday he wasn’t going fishing and that he should take her for a drive instead. So the next Sunday they got into the car and went for a drive……to go check out a new fishing spot.
His retirement also coincided with the start of the salmon plantings in Lake Michigan. This was new territory for both he and my father. They had fished for Steelhead in Owen Sound and Lake trout in Lake Michigan but catching 25 pound salmon in the Manistee River and lake was new territory for both of them. It was nothing like pulling pencil plugs for walleye. All the salmon lures we have today had yet to materialize so he had to improvise. That meant taking his existing lures and modifying them for salmon. It most cases it wasn’t anything too drastic but it still made me wonder. He really liked using Helin Flatfish lures but the hooks were too small. Simple fix, bigger hooks but I sometimes think he got a little carried away. Then again I’m used to the advanced lines and hooks we have today. Back in 1970 equipment was a little different.
Paint schemes were new territory for him as well. Most of the lures he had were dull natural paint schemes. He probably had more frog pattern flatfish than anything else. Someone most have told him that pink was the “hot” color at the time because he painted over a few lures. It was crude by today’s standards but it must have worked.
Paint schemes and modifications are one thing but some lures I just had no clue as to why he had them. They just didn’t fit for what he was trying to catch. All the spoons, flashers, cowbells, and dodgers made sense but a couple of them really made me scratch my head. My Grandfather would fish for anything but Bass were never high on his list. Bass are the only fish I could think of that these lures would be used for but why would they be in a tackle box full of salmon and walleye stuff? Then again I am probably just over analyzing and comparing his way of doing things to mine. I probably have 10 times the lures he did and I have them all organized in separate boxes by size and use. Knowing my grandfather he just threw everything into one box and took it everywhere. I still have to wonder why he ever bought these two though.
I really enjoyed looking through the old tackle box that day. Why I did it with more scrutiny this time still escapes me but I’m glad I did. It still amazes me how far the technology has come and how much lures have changed in just the last 40 years. I can only hope that my Grandkids will get the same enjoyment going over all my fishing stuff 40 years from now.